Sporting Heroes

A friend of mine from back in my Chester College sports science days recently invited me to post some pictures of my sporting heroes on Facebook. My friend, Chris, is a sporty type and we both take great joy and inspiration from the sportspeople we admire. Before anyone tells me we shouldn’t put people on a pedestal, I know! But I don’t think that there’s anything wrong in delighting in excellence and taking note of the qualities you admire in someone. (Furthermore, the Apostle Paul said so too – see below!)
I’m not sure it “rubs off” on us, exactly, but I do believe we can learn and develop ourselves through our observation of people if we take the time to think about what it is that makes them successful, or admirable.
I don’t spend very much time at all on Facebook (and precisely zero time on other social media platforms!) but this invitation intrigued me, so I thought about it quite a lot. To be honest, I’m still struggling to narrow my list down to just ten people!
In no particular order here are a few from my not-so-shortlist…
  • Daley Thompson - double Olympic gold medal winner in the decathlon. I’ve actually met him! I really admired his dedication to training and the way he made winning seem so easy. My key learning from Daley is that everything is much easier if you have already put the hard work in – do that with all your heart and you can enjoy the event itself!
  • Bill Kazmaier - three times winner of the World’s Strongest Man contest and multiple powerlifting world champion. I’ve met him too! I admire his ability to switch on a fearsome intensity and I also admire his determination, summed up by his phrase “I can and I will.”
  • Georges St. Pierre – martial artist. What I like about “GSP” is that he “lives” what he does – it’s not really a matter of competing but rather, it’s a code, a way of life that informs everything he does. Something in there for Christians, I believe!
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger. The epitome of dreaming dreams, setting goals and pursuing them with total commitment, overcoming obstacles through hard work and sheer force of will! I really admire his ability to think things through, make a plan, and make it happen!
  • Muhammad Ali – apart from his almost child-like sense of wonder and capacity for fun, I really admired his ability to weigh things up under extreme pressure and find a way to win. I also love the way he always made time for everyone, even when he was very tired. 
So here’s a question. Who do you admire – and why? It doesn’t have to be from the world of sports, of course! Take a little time to have a think about it – you might find it fun! And feel free to let me know, if you like. I’d be fascinated to know who inspires you and what it is about them that catches your imagination.
May you be inspired to action!
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 NRSVA)
Simon Lace, 11/03/2021